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TBI Blogs: From the Streets of Kolhapur to Your Doorstep – One E-Commerce Site Makes It Possible

A new startup is trying to help preserve indigenous handicrafts by ensuring the money from their sales reaches the right people – the artisans themselves. Read on to find out how Pulpypapaya is connecting these artisans directly to their consumers, and in the process, slowly bringing indigenous handicrafts back into the mainstream.

Pulpypapaya’s story dates back to 2013 when Abhineet Agarwal, one of the founders, bought a handmade journal from Rajasthan. People around him in Indore found this piece of handicraft extremely fascinating. This is when he was struck with the idea of creating a platform to sell handicrafts made by local artisans across the country. The idea impressed two of his school friends and they agreed to join in on this venture. These school friends are currently the co-founders, Akash Saraf and Tushar Somani, who backed Abhineet in launching Pulpypapaya in November 2013.

(L-R) Abhineet Agarwal, Akash Saraf & Tushar Somani - Co-Founders of Pulpypapaya
(L-R) Abhineet Agarwal, Akash Saraf & Tushar Somani – Co-Founders of Pulpypapaya

Purpose of Existence

This Indore-based handicraft brand functions with the mission of taking the art and craft of local artisans to a customer’s doorstep. They aim to tackle the possible extinction of the century-old local crafts due to technology and urbanisation. The core idea is to make availability of handicrafts easy for customers through the portal. The founders hope this will encourage local artisans to continue with their ancestral livelihood due to increased demand for their craft. So far, Pulpypapaya has been able to impact the lives of around 300 rural artisans across 20 small towns and villages.

Featuring products on the portal

The process of listing a product on Pulpypapaya starts with exploring the inherent art and craft of a region. The best products are shortlisted and then procured from the local artisans or middlemen. Purchase from middlemen or the artisans depends upon the size of the order, with artisans requiring a larger order to be placed. The procured products are put through a vigorous quality-check and size standardization procedure before getting listed on the website. The products sourced from artisans fall under the category of ‘curated products’. The team also uses various primitive arts to create products in the company’s own studio. These ones fall under the category of ‘studio products’. The Pulpypapaya brand sells both curated and studio products.

Kolhapuri Footwear Artisan
Kolhapuri Footwear Artisan

Focus on Empowering Kolhapuri footwear artisans

Currently, the focus of the brand is on improving the lives of artisans in Kolhapur, who manufacture the famous Kolhapuri footwear.  Pulpypapaya observed unfair trade practices and exploitation of these artisans by the middlemen. The high profits generated through the selling of Kolhapuri footwear to the urban customers did not trickle down to the artisans. Hence, Pulpypapaya plans on sourcing directly from these Kolhapuri artisans, sharing a higher percentage of the selling price with them. However, sourcing directly from the artisans requires Pulpypapaya to place a minimum order.

Kolhapuri Footwear Line-up
Kolhapuri Footwear Line-up

Pulpypapaya’s crowdfunding initiative

The young startup is currently crowdfunding on Wishberry to raise INR 6 Lacs for the minimum order of 1,500 units. The crowdfunding campaign includes pre-order opportunities for the brand’s upcoming Kolhapuri footwear line-up. Other rewards include discounts on Pulpypapaya products for a year, and an exclusive two-day visit to their workshop. Directly sourcing from artisans allows Pulpypapaya to share 50% of the selling price with them, versus 25% offered by middlemen.

You can support Pulpypapaya’s cause by pre-booking your pair of Kolhapuri footwear here.

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Written by Wishberry

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Wishberry is India's largest and most successful crowdfunding platform for Independent Creative Artists